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What is a blessing way? How is it different to a baby shower?

A henna tree of life design on a woman's pregnant belly.Maybe you don’t want a baby shower.

Maybe you had a baby shower with your first pregnancy and have enough baby gear to pass down.

Or maybe the thought of playing games that involve you eating baby food or your friends guessing your ever-increasing girth just doesn’t appeal to you.

Maybe you’d like to celebrate the impending birth in a less commercial way?

Maybe you should have a blessing way instead of a baby shower.

What is a blessing way?

A blessing way – or mother’s blessing* – is a way of honouring, celebrating and empowering a mother before the birth of her child.

Typically the mother-to-be will invite her closest and most trusted friends and family members. As part of the blessing way the women perform a ceremony to empower the mother – giving her the strength she needs before the big day.

What sort of ceremonies are held at a blessing way?

Bead ceremony:

Ask each guest to bring a bead and thread them together to make a birthing necklace for the mother-to-be. Each bead is a blessing from the guest to the mother and all the beads strung together is a symbol of strength.

Massage ceremony:

The mother enjoys a massage from all the guests, worshipping the body that will soon give birth to a new life.

Henna painting:

The guests decorate the mother’s belly with henna. They may also decorate their wrist as a reminder of the upcoming birth.

String ceremony:

A piece of string is tied around each of the women’s left wrists, joining the women as one. The string is cut at the end of the ceremony and each women is left with a string bracelet. When they hear that labour has begun they cut the string releasing the energy for the mother to receive.

Candle ceremony:

A candle is lit and passed to each woman in the circle. As they hold the candle they share their blessings for the mother-to-be and her baby.

What can you expect at a blessing way?

We asked two Bub Hub forum members to share their blessing way experiences. Here are their stories.

“I had 10 of my closest friends in my home. The table was set with beautiful white, crisp linen, candles, flowers and statues of fertility, motherhood and goddesses. We had beautiful food to share – cakes, fruit platters, nibbles and lots of iced water, juice, tea and coffee. All over my house were scented candles and flowers.

Everyone was asked to bring two beads to sympolise hopes, thoughts and wishes. One bead was to be thread onto a birthing necklace for me. The other was to go onto a big sister necklace for my daughter Poppy to wear on the arrival of her sibling. We all sat around in a circle and each person explained the meaning behind the beads they had chosen and then threaded their beads onto the leather.

It really is quite a powerful thing creating a circle of feminine energy. Even people who aren’t quite “into that sort of thing” were quite moved. A few people were shaking and a couple even shed a tear at how moving it was.

Everyone then made me comfortable and they started the henna painting of my beautiful baby belly. This was a real bonding experience for everyone. Plus we laughed and laughed and my baby was kicking so much – almost like she was enjoying it too!” – earthfairy

“At the blessing way I organised, a circle of women came together to celebrate the journey of my friend birthing her second baby. We had a blessing we did with a candle and we passed it around and shared our blessings to the mother to be and her new baby that was going to be welcoming her.

We all had a piece of string wrapped around our wrists until she was due to birth so that when she was in labour we could all release our energy and our wishes towards her for an empowering birth.

We also helped make her a blessing way necklace and blessed the beads as well for her to wear the necklace during labour so that she would feel our combined energy. Then we painted her belly with henna and ate food and had a lovely time.” – V8

Why have a blessing way instead of a baby shower?

Baby showers are a more commercial and more baby-focused event than a blessing way. A blessing way is designed to ready the mother for the upcoming birth.

Here are our members’ reasons for choosing to organise a blessing way for themselves or friends.

“As this was my second baby I didn’t really need anything for bub. My first ‘baby shower’ was organised by a ‘friend’ who couldn’t really be bothered so it wasn’t even a baby shower as such. She only invited four people and I was really disappointed. No games, no real gifts etc … she arranged it at a cafe and I was home by 11am! This time I wanted something that I wanted and had always wanted! Even though I knew I was having a c-section I thought it was important to still acknowledge it as a birth. I thought this is a perfect way.” – earthfairy

“We had a blessing way for my friend as she was having a homebirth. We wanted to create a harmonious space for her in her home – that honoured her and her baby – so that when the time came her birthspace was filled with female-centred energy to give her power for her upcoming birth. She wasn’t interested in all the presents and things with a baby shower, it was more about honouring her as a woman and as a mother-to-be.” – V8

What the best thing about a Blessing Way?

“It worships the mother instead of the baby – something that’s often left by the wayside. The magic that a circle of women can make. The feminine energy and love that happened in my lounge room that day is still very present in my home. I love that.” – earthfairy:

“I think it was just the energy of all the women, how it was focused on the pregnancy, the labour and the birth and supporting the woman as best we could to achieve the outcome she wanted. It was very empowering and made her feel very loved and special as opposed to a baby shower, where the mother isn’t the main focus it’s more about the baby.” -V8

* Sometimes a blessing way is called a mother’s blessing out of respect for the Navajo people, who have a ceremony called a blessing way on which the modern ceremony is based. Because the modern ceremony does not adhere to the exact rites of the Navajo ceremony they do not always approve of the term being used.

Image credit: katrinaelena/123RF Stock Photo

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